About the Author


Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l was an international religious leader, philosopher, and respected moral voice. The author of over 35 books, he received multiple awards in recognition of his work including the 2016 Templeton Prize. He was the recipient of 18 honorary doctorates, and was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009. Rabbi Sacks zt”l served as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Rabbi Sacks zt”l was born on the 8th March 1948 and passed away on the 7th November 2020 (Shabbat Kodesh 20th MarCheshvan 5781).

These weekly teachings from Rabbi Sacks zt”l are part of the ‘Covenant & Conversation’ series on the weekly Torah reading. Read more essays from the series on www.rabbisacks.org.

Also available: The FAMILY EDITION of Covenant & Conversation, designed to enhance your parsha conversation with everyone from teenagers to great-great-grandparents. To read and print this family-friendly learning resource, for an inter-generational discussion around your Shabbat table on Rabbi Sacks’ ideas for the week, please click here.


Staying Young

Moses did not fade. That is the accolade the Torah gives him at the end of his long and eventful...

A Leader’s Call to Responsibility

When words take wing, they modulate into song. That is what they do here in Ha’azinu as...

Consensus vs. Command?

What do you say to your successor? What advice do you give him or her? Vayelech is the place to...

Defeating Death

Only now, reaching Nitzavim, can we begin to get a sense of the vast, world-changing project at...

A Nation of Storytellers

Howard Gardner, professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, is one of the great...

Against Hate

Ki Teitse contains more laws than any other parsha in the Torah, and it is possible to be...

Defining Reality

One of the gifts of great leaders, and one from which each of us can learn, is that they frame...

Learning and Leadership

The parsha of Shoftim is the classic source of the three types of leadership in Judaism, called by...

To Lead is to Listen

“If only you would listen to these laws …” (Deut. 7:12). These words with which...

The Leader as Teacher

It was one of the great moments of personal transformation, and it changed not only Moses but our...

Conflict Resolution

One of the hardest tasks of any leader – from Prime Ministers to parents – is conflict...

Lessons of a Leader

The parsha of Pinchas contains a masterclass on leadership, as Moses confronts his own mortality...

Leadership and Loyalty

Is leadership a set of skills, the ability to summon and command power? Or does it have an...

Miriam, Moses’ Friend

It is one of the great mysteries of the Torah. Arriving at Kadesh the people find themselves...

Servant Leadership

“You have gone too far! The whole community are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is...

Confidence

It was perhaps the single greatest collective failure of leadership in the Torah. Ten of the spies...

The Politics of Envy

Few things in the Torah are more revolutionary than its conception of leadership. Ancient...

Leading a Nation of Individuals

The book of Bamidbar begins with a census of the Israelites. That is why it this book is known in...

“We the People”

In the final parsha of the book of Leviticus, in the midst of one of the most searing curses ever...

On Not Being Afraid of Greatness

Embedded in this week’s parsha are two of the most fundamental commands of Judaism –...

Sprints and Marathons

It was a unique, unrepeatable moment of leadership at its highest height. For forty days Moses had...

How to Praise

The Sages were eloquent on the subject of lashon hara, evil speech, the sin they took to be the...

Reticence vs. Impetuosity

It should have been a day of joy. The Israelites had completed the Mishkan, the Sanctuary. For...

The Courage of Identity Crises

Good leaders know their own limits. They do not try to do it all themselves. They build teams....

The Sins of a Leader

As we have discussed so many times already this year, leaders make mistakes. That is inevitable....

Celebrate

If leaders are to bring out the best in those they lead, they must give them the chance to show...

How Leaders Fail

As we have seen in both Vayetse and Vaera, leadership is marked by failure. It is the recovery...

The Therapeutic Joy of Purim

You defeat fear by joy. You conquer terror by collective celebration.

The Home We Build Together

The sequence of parashot that begins with Terumah, and continues Tetzaveh, Ki Tissa, Vayakhel and...

Vision and Details

Our parsha takes us through a bewildering transition. Up until now, the book of Shemot has carried...

A Nation of Leaders

This week’s parsha consists of two episodes that seem to constitute a study in contrasts....

Looking Up

The Israelites had crossed the Red Sea. The impossible had happened. The mightiest army in the...

Overcoming Setbacks

At first, Moses’ mission seemed to be successful. He had feared that the people would not...

Women as Leaders

This week’s parsha could be entitled “The Birth of a Leader.” We see Moses,...

Moving Forwards

The book of Bereishit ends on a sublime note of reconciliation between Jacob’s sons....

The Unexpected Leader

I was once present when the great historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, was asked to predict the...

Three Approaches to Dreams

In one of the greatest transformations in all literature, Joseph moves in a single bound from...

The Power of Praise

Reuben is the leader who might have been but never was. He was Jacob's firstborn. Jacob said of...

Be Thyself

I have often argued that the episode in which the Jewish people acquired its name – when...

Light in Dark Times

To try, to fall, to fear, and yet to keep going: that is what it takes to be a leader.

Isaac and Rebecca: Communication Matters

The consequences of the failure to communicate.

Inspiring Quotes by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

A small selection of meaningful quotes from Rabbi Sacks, of blessed memory.

Beginning the Journey

God promises, but we have to act.

Answering the Call

Abraham was the first great Jewish leader. He took responsibility and didn’t wait for others to act.

The Courage Not to Conform

To be a Jew is to be willing to challenge the prevailing consensus and dare to be different.

The Transformative Power of Ideas

Judaism is a way of understanding the world and contains life-changing ideas.

The Arc of the Moral Universe

In the long run, tyrannies are defeated. Empires decline and fall. Goodness and rightness win the final battle.

How to Renew a Nation

The Talmud gives an ingenious reading to the line, “Moses commanded us a Torah, as a...

Be Silent and Listen

One of the gifts of this strange, difficult time has been the ability to slow down the prayers so that I am able to listen to them speaking to me.

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